In September 2015, “the NSW Treasury launched a comprehensive scoping study to investigate future options for Land & Property Information (LPI)”. As a result of the recommendations of the study, the NSW Government announced on 20 May 2016 that it “would proceed with a 35-year long-term concession” for “the management of the titling and registry services business of LPI”. The NSW Government also announced that “a newly created regulator” would “monitor and enforce the operator's performance in respect of defined service levels, KPIs and the security of the data”. (1)
Also as a result of the scoping study, the NSW Government had concluded that there was “opportunity to provide more benefit to the State if the Titling and Registry Services (TRS), Valuation Services and Spatial Services units of LPI” were “separated and integrated into DFSI”, particularly as with “advances in technology, many manual processes” were “now digital” and there were channels “to ensure continued information sharing between the existing LPI units, without requiring the units to be grouped together as one division”. (2)
On 1 July 2016, Land and Property Information (LPINSW) was effectively abolished upon its separation into five discrete business units, which were integrated into the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI). Valuation Services “moved to Property and Advisory Group” and “Spatial Services moved to Government and Corporate Services and then to ICT and Digital Government”. The Office of the Registrar General (ORG) was created within the Better Regulation Division, and assumed the regulatory functions of Titling and Registry Services, which moved into the Customer Services Division. The Office of the Valuer General remained a separate unit reporting to Parliament and the Secretary of DFSI. (3)
On 28 September 2016, the Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016 (Act No.46, 2016) was assented to, and partly proclaimed to commence on the assent date. The part of the Act, which amended other legislation, was proclaimed to commence on 19 May 2017. (4)
Office of the Registrar General
The LPI Authorised Transaction Act established the mechanism for the Registrar General to be the regulator of a privately operated land title business. As a first step to achieving this, the language of the Real Property Act 1900 was changed so that documents were to be lodged "with the Registrar General" and things were required to be done "by the Registrar General". This allowed the Registrar General to delegate certain functions to a private operator while retaining responsibility for the proper performance of those functions. The Torrens Assurance Fund was retained as the central feature of the land title system, which continued to be backed by the State guarantee of title. (5)
The Office of the Registrar General regulated the privately-operated land titles business to ensure integrity, security, performance and availability of the NSW land titles system through a range of oversights, rules, directions, and quality assurance. Key aspects of this regulator operator arrangement were:
(i) land titles continued to be guaranteed by the State, backed by the Torrens Assurance Fund,
(ii) the State retained ownership of all data,
(iii) physical records, primary copies of electronic data and back-up copies were kept in Australia,
(iv) price increase of regulated services were capped at CPI. (6)
Following the abolition of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation on 1 July 2019 the Office of the Registrar General reported to the Department of Customer Service. (7)
1. Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Annual Report 2015-2016, pp.215-216; Ministerial Media Release, Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations, Gladys Berejiklian, 'LPI Transaction To Fund New Infrastructure’, 20 May 2016 from the Treasury Website, http://www.treasury.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/128083/20052016_Gladys_Berejiklian_med_rel_-_LPI_transaction_to_fund_new_infrastructure.pdf (accessed 28 September 2016).
2. Announcement, Land and Property Information, 'Changes at Land and Property Information', 6 June 2016 from the Land and Property Information Website, http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/about_lpi/announcements/changes_at_land_and_property_information (accessed 3 November 2016); Land and Property Information, Circular (2016/07), 'Changes at Land and Property Information', June 2016 from the Land and Property Information Website, http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/211468/2016-07_Changes_at_Land_and_Property_Information.pdf (accessed 27 September 2016).
3. Loc. cit. ; Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Annual Report 2015-2016, op.cit., pp.13-14, 37, 75-76, 215-216; 'DFSI Organisational Chart as at 11 January 2017' from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Website, https://www.finance.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/policy-documents/DFSI-organisational-structure_1_0_0.pdf (accessed 31 January 2017).
4. Ministerial Media Release, Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations, Gladys Berejiklian, 'LPI Transaction Legislation Introduced', 13 September 2016 from the Treasury Website, and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016, s.2, Schedule 4, http://www.treasury.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/129678/LPI_transaction_legislation_introduced.pdf (accessed 10 January 2017); Commencement Proclamation under the Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016 (Act No.46, 2016) (2017 No.96); Notified on NSW Legislation Website, 24 March 2017; Office of Registrar General, Circular (2017/01), Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016; Commencement of Schedule 4 and new Pricing Regulations', 2017/01 from the Office of Registrar General Website.
5. Office of the Registrar General Circular 2017/01 Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016 - Commencement of Schedule 4 and new Pricing Regulations http://www.registrargeneral.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/319903/2017-01-Land-and-Property-Information-NSW-Authorised-Transaction-Act-2016.pdf (accessed 27 July 2018).
6. Office of the Registrar General website, Regulator, https://www.registrargeneral.nsw.gov.au/regulator, (accessed 29 November 2022).
7. Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes-Public Service Agencies) Order 2019 (2019 No 159), cl. 7; NSW Legislation Website 2 April 2019.